December 12, 2016

A few quick notes on alleged Russian hackers and #Recount2016

First, this: While the FBI and CIA disagree on their motivation on alleged Russian hacks into the Democratic National Committee computer system (along with possible alleged Republican National Committee hacks as well), the two agencies agree that the decentralized nature of US voting, among other things, make a hack of voting systems highly unlikely.

Let's unpack that further.

It means that the claims of Alex Halderman, Jill Stein, Bob Fitrakis, David Cobb, Greg Palast and others evaporate into even thinner air than they already inhabited after numerous other people refuted Halderman's claim of "anomalies."

Halderman himself not only claimed anomalies, but also both hinted that Putin did it while portraying how this might have happened in such a way that the Kremlin looked like both geniuses and imbeciles at the same time, as I said in my first blog post about #Recount2016. (I hope you have your Michigan State computer science class lectures straighter than your conspiracy theories.

Second, note that I used "alleged" twice in the first paragraph.

Why?

Per a friend of his, who also happens to be a former British diplomat, Julian Assange has repeatedly said that he did NOT get the DNC emails he leaked from Russian hackers. That former ambassador, Craig Murray (who will surely not be a future ambassador!) has the details here:

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two.
Beyond that, Murray was interviewed for a Guardian piece, where he added:
“I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.
Of course, this doesn't fit Clintonista narratives, pre- and post-election, and it probably doesn't fit CIA post-election narratives either.

Speaking of, Murray then doubled down on his call-out of the CIA:
“If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States.
“America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”
He's right, as James Risen and others know. At least, as far as someone inside the US doing this hacking for Russia. Now, of course, this could all be done at a Russian remove.

As for Clintonista claims that, but, of course Donald Trump was more favorable to Russia?

I'll repeat again what I've said elsewhere, adding one word this time to spell it out more. Google "Frank Giustra" plus "uranium" plus "Rosatom" plus "Clinton Foundation."

Yes, Clinton as a warhawk might have upped the chances of war with Russia. But, were sanctions likely to get that much tougher? No. And, at the same time, she offered a level of stability and predictability Trump did not.

As for motive? Assange has long made no attempt to disguise his dislike, even his venom, for Hillary Clinton.

That said, I wouldn't trust Assange much further than I can throw him. He may be lying to Craig Murray and the rest of us. And, if he did get the DNC emails from Russian hacks, he has good reason to lie, just like Edward Snowden has good reason to downplay how much Putin is using him as a tool. If these were Russian materials, Assange would look less skillful than claimed at recruiting independent hackers, or doing it himself, on the one hand, and on the other, he would look like a petty tool of Putin. (Sidebar: I still haven't figured out how much Snowden may actually be a willing tool of Vlad the Impaler, how much he may be an unwilling tool, and how much he may be so clueless as to be an unwitting tool.)

On the other hand, as a career British diplomatic service officer before a principle-driven resignation, Murray probably has at least a mid-level skill of bullshit detection.

Per Counterpunch, remaining agnostic on CIA claims is probably the best stance for now.

The CIA is no doubt as displeased with the outcome of the election as their current President is, as I am, as most of the rest of the world is. But cherry picking anonymous leaks about a rumored CIA report supposedly claiming to have proof of a Russian hack to call for Trump’s electoral votes to not be counted is a dangerous stance. It betrays a fundamental distrust of democracy, and places a dangerous amount of faith in letting the CIA determine electoral outcomes.  If history teaches us anything about the CIA, it is that its analysis cannot be trusted when they are the sole possessors of intelligence, especially when this analysis aligns with the desires of the President it serves. …

We need to see the CIA’s report.  But we also need to see the CIA’s Red Team report that uses the same data as the main report, but argues against Russians as the hackers destined to undermine the Clinton campaign; but I doubt this minority report will see the light of day under Obama, but it may well be leaked under Trump.  That’s how the intelligence game is played.
I just quoted stuff most germane to the main point, above.  There's much more to read at the link.

And, a security analyst, a former Russian national, says the ball hasn't been moved, in his mind, since June. That's minor. Far more interesting is that Andrei Soldatov says that, to the degree the Russians are connected, they're surprised to have this gift of claims of how strong their hacking is being dropped into their collective lap, and they're unsure how to further exploit it.

Meanwhile, if you're wondering just how hypocritical the CIA is to condemn the Russkies for alleged election interference? Plenty.

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